A five pound largemouth bass caught by Scott Stormann. Photo by Josh Rouse.
On April 22, 2012, I headed up to the State Lake north of Topeka with my buddy Scott Stormann, who is also the bassist of Echo Lake, to catch some fish.
I've been friends with Scott since junior high and we've been fishing together for several years. It seems like every time we go up to the State Lake, Scott lands a huge bass. A lot of people complain about the State Lake, but the truth is that it's got some nice-sized fish in it, which is exactly what we found out on this trip.
Scott had been fishing at another spot right before I got there. It was around 7 p.m. and we were hoping to do a little bass fishing while the sun was still up and then switch to catfish once it got dark. No sooner had I gotten all my tackle and rods out and started baiting my hook than I hear a huge splash and Scott's fight begins with this MONSTER fish. I dropped the hook I was baiting (my right hand still covered in blood from the chicken liver) and picked up my video camera with my clean hand. As I ran over and began filming, we could tell right away that this fish was huge. Scott battled the brute and finally managed to reel it in and get a hand in its mouth. We took a few photos and weighed and measured it. The largemouth came in at just over 5 pounds and was a little over 20 inches long. Scott said it was the biggest bass he'd ever caught and I couldn't help from laughing... so much for this lake having no big fish! What happened next though floored me.
This story was published in the Washburn Review. Be sure to check them out!
Echo Lake drummer Matt Mirsch. Photo by Josh Rouse.
For a band named Echo Lake, it's only natural that the founding fathers of the group love to fish.
Drummer Matt Mirsch, senior music education major, and bassist Scott Stormann, who is coming back to Washburn after taking a few years off to work, created the popular Topeka-based funk band while earning their diplomas at Seaman High School in 2006. Several years and a few new band mates later, the band has become a local favorite thanks to various gigs they've done in the area, including the Jayhawk Theatre Revival in 2009.
However, when the pair of North Topekan rockers aren't practicing for an upcoming gig or studying, they spend a good chunk of time at various fishing spots, mainly the Shawnee State Lake just north of Topeka.
"Scott has an addiction," said Mirsch. "I fish because I like to eat, Scott fishes because he's addicted to the adrenaline rush of the catch and he should probably see someone about that. That's all I have to say about that."
The two began fishing together in high school, but said they just recently started fishing frequently again this summer.
"We used to fish every now and again, because Matt's dad was a big fisherman and my dad was," said Stormann. "We've been fishing since we were little, but this summer we really started fishing a lot, like hardcore. I've been going out every weekend and Matt comes along probably once every other weekend with me and we've been going catfishing and bass fishing."
The other members of the band—lead singer Dave Hess, guitarist Michael Spangler and saxophonist T.C. Gomez—are all from Washburn. Hess recently graduated with a degree in vocal performance, while Spangler is working toward a business degree and Gomez is working toward a music education degree. Stormann said they've never managed to get the whole band together for a fishing trip, joking that it was mostly because Gomez never had enough money for a fishing license.
"Dave came out once... he's a better singer than a fisherman," said Mirsch.
Scott Stormann holds a 3 lb. bass he caught at Shawnee State Lake. Photo by Josh Rouse.
The largemouth bass is one of the most commonly sought-after game fish in the United States.
It is a symbollic fish for freshwater anglers, with everyone from Bass Pro Shops to the Bassmasters using its name and image to promote themselves. It is a member of the black bass family and is cousins with the smallmouth bass, which is native to the Mississippi River, the Great Lakes and the Hudson Bay area. The largemouth bass is the state fish of five states: Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi and Tennessee.
While bass fishing is indeed a science and an art, it also is caught on a larger variety of lures than most other fish, including topwater poppers, spinners, plastic worms, crankbaits, jigs, flys... basically most lures you will find at a store. You can also catch them using live baits such as worms, leeches, grubs, grasshoppers, crawdads, minnows, shad, frogs, etc. Heck, I've even caught a bass or two on chicken liver while fishing for catfish. The point is that largemouth bass are not particularly picky eaters, and they rely heavily on their eyesight to decide what forage is safe to consume. They are very aggressive, and if anything swims into its area it will probably attack it. They do also rely on keen senses of smell, taste, hearing, touch and a sixth sense, their lateral line, which is a series of nerve endings that stretches from gill to tail.
John Abbott holds a 3.5 lb. wiper he caught at Lake Shawnee. Photo by Josh Rouse.
It's no secret that the intense heat we've seen this summer has taken its toll on Kansas farms and livestock, but one area of concern for many anglers has been its affect underwater.
With temperatures reaching as high as 115 degrees Farhenheit in some areas of the state this summer, many ponds and lakes have suffered with the combination stagnant water, low oxygen and deadly algae. The result has been reports of fish kills in several areas, including Cheney, where one angler reported seeing 22 dead fish floating in the lake, mostly wipers and walleye.
While this is certainly a concern for anglers, the good news is he reported that the fish that survived were biting and he caught several mid-sized wipers during the morning hours, before the sun blasted him out. This fall could bring a nice haul for wipers in certain areas, but more than likely in areas that have some shade over them in the form of trees, bridges, buildings, docks or other areas.
John Abbott holds a largemouth he caught at Lake Perry. Photo by Josh Rouse.
When fishing with John Abbott and David Moon, anything can and probably will happen.
I was reminded of this on July 9, 2011, as Brendan Handy and I went on a night fishing trip with them at Lake Perry, just east of Topeka, KS. We first stopped by Walmart to get a few supplies and then headed out to a spot on the lake by a marina. The spot is a notorious crappie hole, but we only had one crappie on this adventure as they were much deeper than we were fishing.
However, we still had a lot of success fishing in this spot, albeit from a variety of different fish than we were expecting to catch. One species of fish that we caught that was particularly interesting was a gar, which is a long, boney fish with a long beak filled with razor sharp teeth. Definitely not your typical fish, and this was in particular was special because of its size.
With all the negatives surrounding the tragic death of Caylee Anthony and the subsequent legal proceedings, one positive that can and should be taken from it is that it has opened America's eyes and put a spotlight on water safety and the very real possibility of drowning, even in a small amount of water. This is not meant as any sort of commentary on the case, but rather a guide to help prevent accidents similar to what has been described during the case from happening.
Drowning can occur in any depth of water, even as little as 30 mm of water if lying face down in it. Parents need to stay alert with children around any sort of water, including bath tubs, sinks, toilets, pools, hot tubs, ponds, creeks, rivers, lakes, and the ocean.
While it seems needless to say, even the most attentive and caring parents oftentimes can overlook the dangers of water for children and how easily a day at the pool or a fishing trip or even something as simple as a bath can go bad. Heck, when I was a kid, I even came close to drowning in a pool. However, if parents take the proper precautions, they can do a lot to prevent such events from occurring. Following are some safety tips I've gathered from www.safekids.org regarding children in and around the water. Please take a moment to read over these, even if you aren't a parent, as it may help you save a life.
Brendan Handy gives Rouse Outdoors a thumbs up at the 2011 Country Stampede.
Country Stampede 2011 began on Thursday, June 23, for many country music fans. However, for me it began on Friday.
I made the annual trip to Manhattan, KS, with my best friend from high school Brendan Handy and my mom, who has been taking me to the Stampede each year since my senior year of high school. It's kind of a tradition.
This year's lineup was exciting for me because two musical guests who are well known for their fishing songs (Brad Paisley and Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) would be in attendance. Brad Paisley is one of my all-time favorite musicians, but we had to wait until 9:30 p.m. on Saturday to hear him. Instead, we got a chance to listen to a legendary band Friday in the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, as well as Lady Antebellum, the headliner, and Joe Nichols. We arrived at the Stampede at just around 5 p.m., grabbed a turkey leg and a drink from the concession stands and went to find our seats near the middle of the crowd on the right side. However, before we even got seated, we heard a familiar voice over the videoboard. In front of the entire park, WIBW meteorologist Jeremy Goodwin proposed to his girlfriend Nichole Pemberton, who is sisters with one of my friends from high school. She said "Yes," and the crowd roared in approval. Then the music kicked off.
On May 30, 2011, my friend Brendan and I decided to go night fishing at Shawnee State Fishing Lake just north of Topeka.
When we arrived at the lake, we found that it was quite a bit windier than we'd anticipated. We had purchased a few things at Walmart, including Canadian nightcrawlers, dough bait for catfish and shad. Normally, when I catfish at the lake, I prefer to use chicken liver, but they had run out. I had also purchased a glow-in-the-dark bobber and a few big flashlights, which cost only $3.75.
I brought my two big catfish poles and decided to let Handy use one of them. On mine, I put the glow-in-the-dark bobber, a weight, a hook with a worm on it, another weight and then a hook with a shad. On my other pole, a Johnson spinning reel, I simply put a bobber, an anchor and a worm. I find the bobber usually helps a lot in night fishing situations, but with the way the waves were going, it would really only help if a big fish was on.
I really liked having the glow-in-the-dark bobber, but it did have its drawbacks. The area we were fishing was extremely rocky and in the event of a line snagging (which it did twice) the bobber was likely to pop off underwater. The first time I was able to drive around the lake and get it, but the second time it disappeared into the darkness.
Scott Stormann holds his largemouth bass. Photo by Josh Rouse.
On Sunday I got the chance to go fishing with a couple of my friends from high school at Shawnee State Lake, which is just a few miles northwest of Topeka.
My buddies, Scott and Matt, are members of a terrific funk band in Topeka known as Echo Lake. Be sure to take the time to check out some of their music on MySpace. We set out at about 5:30 in the afternoon and found a nice little spot in a cove on the west side of the lake. The lake is a great spot for catfish and normally I would have brought some chicken liver with me. This time, however, I decided to bring some worms I had purchased a few days prior and use them up. Scott was mainly using a plastic crawdad in a Texas rig, minus the weight, and Matt was using a topwater popper.
The area had a muddy bottom and was very calm despite the hard winds surrounding the lake. I was hoping the snag a catfish in the area or perhaps a bass. I had basically ruled out catching any crappie in the area, but I knew I'd get a lot of bites from bluegills. I caught my first bluegill within a few minutes, with Scott casting his crawdad near me. I was using a spinning rod with a pretty light line. It is a red line, I believe Cajun, which I haven't changed in a few years. Regardless, it still seemed to be in pretty good shape. However, after catching a few more bluegill, I saw several large groups of bait fish swimming near the surface and occassionally jumping out in the air. Figuring this would be a nice spot to catch a larger fish, I cast directly in front of the group and almost instantly got a huge hit on my worm. I hooked whatever it was and started reeling. It was large and fought like a large bass or maybe a three pound catfish. I got it about halfway to shore (it was a fairly long cast) before the line snapped.
Distraught, I cast a few more times with a new worm near the group of bait fish, but to no avail. While doing this, Scott hooked a nice largemouth bass (pictured above) and got it to shore. Matt also hooked a nice fish but it wriggled free right at the shore. We had a lot of fish splashing in the water around us at that time, and I noticed a few nice splashes to my left. I walked out in the muddy grass and aimed my cast toward a large branch I saw sticking out of the water that probably belonged to a submersed tree or log. It was once again greeted with a strong hit, much stronger than the light nibbles I'd been getting most of the day by bluegill, and I set the hook. This time, I could tell it was a catfish, and I could feel my light line straining. Trying to correct my mistakes, I let the fish running more than I had with the prior fish before reeling. It seemed to work for a while, as I got the fish within 10 feet of the shore. It came to the surface and I saw that it was a nice catfish, probably in the 4-5 pound range. However, right after it surfaced, it gave a strong tug and once again my line was snapped.
Spewing curses into the evening air, I switched to an old Zebco 33 with stronger line and continued to fish the spot where I had snagged the catfish, but didn't get any more strong bites. I caught a few more bluegill, switched to a topwater popper for a few casts before I decided to call it a night. I put down my pole, grabbed my camera and took a few pictures of the lake before we left.
All in all, it was a fun night and it was nice to get a few good fights in, even though I didn't get them to shore. I definitely plan to bring my big catfish pole next time and some chicken liver. I generally have a better success rate catching catfish with in. I had a lot of fun catching up with Scott and Matt and hopefully we'll give it another shot pretty soon.